kspicks

SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: ELISS INFINITY

There are a lot of “remakes” and upscale versions out there these days, but Eliss Infinity isn’t one that you should skip over. Though the premise is simple—separate or combine planets, drag them to color-coded portals—the game finds endless variations on the form. Its bright, pastel colors and sprightly, spacy sound design make the game a delight to behold even when it ratchets up the difficulty toSuper Meat Boy levels.

PERFECT FOR: Puzzle fiends, multi-touch masters, Galactus the Devourer of Worlds

PLAYTIME: Minutes, which can become hours

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SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: MONUMENT VALLEY

Never has Escher been rendered so wonderfully. Recalling other perspective-bending games like FEZ, The Bridge, and Echochrome, Monument Valley challenges the player with puzzles that warp the space time continuum to a beautiful effect. Progressing through the game feels like being escorted through an art gallery, and with a run time just shy of three hours, it makes for the perfect weekend snack.

PLAYTIME: Short

PERFECT FOR: Those who like to distort the rules of space and time, those who always want to touch the paintings in museums, and those who want to show their friends games are art, literally.

PLAYLIST SUNDAY PICK: PAPER SORCERER

If you miss the good ol’ days of RPGs but simply don’t have the time to invest in another Wizardry, then Paper Sorcerer might be right up your alley. This sleek adventure ditches mindless grinding in favor of strategy. Take your time ransacking shelves and drawers, psych yourself up, and then walk into the next momentous battle. The sepia-toned dungeon may look papery, but the game’s systems are anything but.

PERFECT FOR: Renegade spellcasters, D&Ders, getting lost in a book (literally)

PLAYTIME: About 15 hours

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SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: SHOVEL KNIGHT

One of the big early Kickstarter hullabaloos, Shovel Knight hearkens back to a simpler time—one of 8-bit side-scrolling and sharpened shovels. The throwback aesthetic is purposeful, too, inspiring comparisons to the diamond-tight controls of DuckTales as well as the brutal design choices of that era. The end result is exactly the kind of throwback that we can really dig into. (Sorry.)

PLAYTIME: Medium

PERFECT FOR: Retro game lovers, William H. Macy’s character in Mystery Men, shovel enthusiasts

SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK

Oquonie is what would happen if Animal Crossing started taking college classes on dadaist poetry and surrealism. Swiping through monochrome rooms and collecting strange runes from creatures speaking an indecipherable language, you start to worry that your turnips might be rotting—I mean, worry that you’re moving in circles. The minute Oquonie suspects you might be getting too comfortable, your avatar transforms from a humanoid to a rabbit. Why not. 

Perfect for: Native Camilare-speakers, animal lovers, scholars of Kafka

Playtime: Aimless hours

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SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: TWO DOTS

Don’t let the name fool you. While TwoDots is the successor to the well received iOS puzzle game DotsTwoDots builds upon Dots’ original formula and becomes a puzzle game all its own. The charming Jacques and Amelia take you along through their puzzle-adventure, solving puzzles with the same elegant aesthetic of Dots. Eighty-five levels scattered with tiny secrets make this a no-brainer.

PLAYTIME: Short

PERFECT FOR: Connect 4 connoisseurs, pointilliste painters, people named Dottie

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SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: GLITCHHIKERS

While Fear and Loathing attempted to get at The Greater Reality of All Things via a drug-induced haze, many of us have likely found our minds wandering while engaging in less chaotic affairs. Glitchhikers taps into that moment — the 2AM drive home after you swore you would leave by 8, where your eyes begin to droop and you wonder if those lines in the road are actually as straight as they appear. Like a good book, your mind begins to fill in the gaps between the explicit and the implied, something that quite literally exists as blackness on an open, unlit road. Let Glitchhikers take you on that ride again (for free), though now in the comfort of your own room where falling asleep has much less fatal consequences.

PLAYTIME: Short

PERFECT FOR: Those who practice transcendental meditation, aspiring hitchhikers, and lovers of a night drive.

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SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: HEAVY BULLETS

FRACT OSC with guns meets the procedural generation of Spelunky, topped with the musical stylings of Samurai Gunn’s doseone? Count us in. With only six bullets to make it across eight levels, Heavy Bullets ranges from total insanity to tactical maneuvering as you move through its neon-soaked levels. There’s more content planned for the future as well, but good luck beating the game’s current offerings.

PLAYTIME: Short

PERFECT FOR: Devolver Digital diehards, neon annihilators, and cyberspace cowboys.

SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: THE SUN DOES NOT EXIST

Here’s the hipster-nightmare-acid-trip game you never knew you wanted, mixing elements of adventure and survival-horror tropes to adapt Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The result is a psychedelic experience of self-disgust, shame, and amusement—one that we’re still trying to figure out. Did I just pass by a giant, crooked, cock-shaped door? Well, you know what they say: come for the cock-doors, stay for the soundtrack.

PERFECT FOR: Hipsters, hippies, disgruntled Silent Hill fans

PLAYTIME: A ten-minute detour

SUNDAYS PLAYLIST PICK: NIDHOGG

Sword-fighting in games often lacks the finesse of two skilled fencers crossing rapier and épée. Nidhogg gets the best of the both worlds, letting you choose between reclaiming the art of the duel or just throwing your sword at your opponent and going in dive-kicking. Combining the swordplay with race-to-the-edge platforming makes for tense matches in which the winner gains not immortal victory but the honor of being eaten by a giant flying worm.

PERFECT FOR: Fencers, football fans, fishermen who enjoy irony

PLAYTIME: A couple frantic minutes at a time

SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: OUT THERE

Out There is not a game about making war with an alien scourge. The only monsters you’ll fight here are internal: you drift through the endless expanses of space searching for a distant waypoint that might be not even be your home. Manage your resources carefully, because every move you make is a gamble, every jump might be your last, every landing fraught with peril. Turns out being all alone is the most dangerous thing of all.

PERFECT FOR: Gravity lovers, space cadets, those coming to terms with isolation.

PLAYTIME: Several minutes at a time

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PLAYLIST PICK: THE NOVELIST

Playing The Novelist is a bit like sleeping in a bed with an open window on one side, a heater on the other, and a dog asleep at the foot. It’s comfortably domestic, but complicated by tiny adjustments to find the right balance between three elements. Do you want John to play with his son, attend a gallery opening with his wife, or keep working on his novel? No wrong, no right, no judgement, just cause and effect. Mature stuff, right? Oh, also you play a ghost. So there’s that.

PERFECT FOR: Those building a family themselves, people who enjoy(ed) reading their siblings’ diaries, voyeurs

PLAYTIME: 3 - 5 hours, which is no time at all to an immortal meddling house ghost

SUNDAY’S PLAYLIST PICK: OLYMPIA RISING

For those who like God of War, but prefer their games made of pixels, there's Olympia Rising. A game primarily about jumping, you play a sprightly young warrior named Lola who decides that the best way to get out of Hades is to climb straight out. As classical in its own way as the myths that inspired it, Olympia Rising is a quick but meaty slice of a larger project. Worth getting excited about.

Perfect for: Fans of the first level of Kid Icarus, people who take the stairs instead of the elevator

Playtime: Shorter than it takes to get from Troy to Ithica

SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: THREES!

There’s never been a more appropriately placed exclamation point than the one at the end of this game’s title. Threes! is fueled by your spastic compulsion for order, stress, and winning. A fan of Threes! can be identified by their furrowed brow and their quiet mutters: “One plus one is two, six and six is twelve, two and one is…” That it wraps all of this in a flurry of adorable aesthetic choices makes it that much easier to surrender all free will to it.

PERFECT FOR: Bean counters, neat freaks, kids trying to get their arithmetic straight

PLAYTIME:  A few minutes to get playing, a few hours to understand

SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: CONTINUE?9876543210

There might be a limbo for dead videogame characters to go through after being purged from your computer (have not seen any evidence to contradict this), but if there isn’t, Continue?9876543210 does a pretty amazing job of simulating it. Can you hide out long enough to make your way through computer purgatory in your quest to make peace with your own existence? 

PLAYTIME: A few hours … or eternity

PERFECT FOR: Curious gamers, BioShock: Infinite apologists, ontological scholars

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SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: DATA JACK

Remember Syndicate? DataJack does. DataJack knows the appeal of hacking, destroying, and taking missions of dubious morality, all for credits and upgrades. It calls back to the days of keyboard-and-mouse stealth action: typing away frenetically while your on-screen avatar does the same, and its on-screen avatar does the same, and its on-screen avatar does the same. Just don’t get lost in there.

PERFECT FOR: Cyberpunks, creeps, replicants, spies

PLAYTIME: Short

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SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: ICYCLE

Icycle isn’t your typical post-apocalyptic game. You aren’t fighting across an irradiated nightmarish wasteland, and you aren’t quite saving a princess. No, in this case you play as a naked guy on a bicycle who must navigate a surreal ice age in order to rescue his snow-woman love interest. The atmosphere is a combination of a Magritte painting, a Monty Python sketch and an intro to an old Bond movie. Lest it be unsaid: this game is insane. 

PERFECT FOR: a dry English sense of humor, bowler hat enthusiasts, intellectual Mario fans

PLAY TIME: Short

SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: SUPER GRAVITRON

Terry Cavanagh’s VVVVVV hit iOS and Android this past week, along with a standalone version of its secret minigame Super Gravitron. It’s simple: flip from floor to ceiling, avoiding obstacles for as long as you can. It’s a bite-size taste of what VVVVVV proper has to offer, but it’s also deviously addictive in its own right, creating the sort of high-score compulsion that made Cavanagh’s Super Hexagon such a charmer on the device.

PLAYTIME: Measured in seconds.

PERFECT FOR: Anyone looking to get one over on gravity, Captain Viridian cosplayers.

SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: WAYWARD SOULS

Self-described as Secret of Mana meets Spelunky, Wayward Souls is a beautifully executed game that indeed recalls both of those while offering something more than the sum of it’s pre-described parts. Random levels and a variety of characters to choose from means that full completion is much harder to attain that your typical mobile game, but as you start to see the all the possible combinations of Wayward Souls’ inner workings, you’ll find it hard to resist coming back.

PLAYTIME: Short, but delivers replay value in spades.

PERFECT FOR: Those looking for Souls on-the-go, spelunkers, and loot fanatics.

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SUNDAY PLAYLIST PICK: SAMURAI GUNN

If you’ve ever said to yourself, “Samurai would be way better if they had guns,” then, boy, have we got a game for you. The action is fast, a little frantic, and, as befits a game involving a bunch of samurai wielding guns, any move could be your last. But there’s the rub, too: each death is greeted with a stylized freeze frame and a generous spray of pixelized blood. It’s all so ostentatiously good-looking that it sets a new meaning for “party game.”

Perfect for: Fans of Kill Bill (Vol. 1, obviously) and Super Smash Bros.

Playtime: A few quick, frantic lives, then however long the wait is until your next turn